Amended campground ordinance opens door of opportunity, enjoyment

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Our View
The definition of camping varies greatly from one person to the next. For some, it all starts with a tent. That wad of fabric that introduces you to everything the great outdoors has to offer. A campfire, gazing at the star-lit sky at night, discovering that food, when cooked and eaten outside, always tastes better. The conversation and the silence, all more rich when done while camping.
Carter County in many ways is a camper’s paradise. Roan Mountain State Park, Dennis Cove, Shook Branch, Watauga Lake, Wilbur Dam, Little Stoney, the Appalachian Trail, they all offer camping opportunities.
The Carter County Commission Monday made it just a little easier for landowners to develop more campsites in the county by amending the county’s campground ordinance with less restrictive language. The amended ordinance will allow more campsites per acreage, less space between campsites, and both full-service and primitive camping sites.
Since the new restrictions were put in place in 2010, no new campgrounds have been permitted.
Camping is one of life’s greatest pleasures, especially to the outdoors person. Carter County and Elizabethton have so much to offer — Watauga Lake with its fishing, boating and recreational opportunities; Roan Mountain State Park with its hiking trails, cabins and campground; Watauga River with its rafting, canoeing and kyaking; the Tweetsie Trail with its biking and hiking; Sycamore Shoals Historic Area with its many educational workshops; and of course, downtown and its unique stores and restaurants. All lend themselves to camping.
The definition of camping varies greatly from one person to the next. Backpacking the Appalachian Trail and sleeping in a camper at a campground are two completely different experiences but if they have one thing in common, it’s that lifelong memories are made while living life in the great outdoors.
Camping is often dismissed as a luxury that’s no longer necessary in today’s connected world. However, it does have its benefits. Immersing oneself in the outdoors helps people connect with nature in a way that’s not possible while surfing the web or even walking at the park. This is especially important for young people because they’re the ones who will be tasked with protecting the environment.
Camping fosters independence. Venturing outdoors makes adults and children less dependent on the crutches of everyday life. For example, children no longer have video games or technology to fall back on for entertainment on a camping trip. Escaping from the world — even for a few hours or nights — is a key experience to cherish because it offers an opportunity to reflect. It also enables campers to replenish themselves from the pressures and stresses of work and school.
If none of the previous reasons were compelling enough, the physical activity of camping should be. According to a recent study by the CDC, more than a third of adults are obese with an even more alarming 17 percent of children and adolescents afflicted with obesity. Going camping forces you to walk and use your hands — all while having fun.
It really doesn’t matter where you do it or how you do it. What does matter is that you get outside, breathe the fresh air, gaze at the stars, listen to the birds chirp and the wind blow, smell like a campfire for days on end and love every second of it. It truly is one of life’s greatest pleasures and is sure to leave you with some of your fondest memories.

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